BCPC challenges POST guidance to MPs
“The overview in the latest POSTnote (June 2009 No336) for MPs, that suggests “current agricultural systems that are dependent on intensive pesticide use are not viable” is wrong,” challenges Dr Ruscoe, Chairman of BCPC. “Properly managed intensive agriculture is the only sustainable way of feeding the world now and in the future.”
“The low-yielding alternatives, which it is suggested have been developed and adopted my many farmers and growers, require huge increases in land going under the plough. And even if suitable productive land was available globally – which is debatable – this would have a totally unacceptable environmental impact with loss of habitat and biodiversity,” says Dr Ruscoe.
BCPC is concerned that the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has still not recognised the major concerns, within the industry, about the European Commission’s changes to the pesticide approval process. And, although the latest POSTnote on Crop Protection has set out to explore the implications for UK agriculture, BCPC believes it falls short by focussing on alternative crop protection strategies.
“The announcement in January, that the approvals process for pesticides following Directive 91/414/EEC will include hazard based cut-off criteria, means that pesticides not meeting the criteria will be withdrawn,” warns Dr Colin Ruscoe. “The full implications have really not been thought through.”
With 30 to 40% of crops lost globally to pests and disease before harvesting, the cost-effective and versatile use of pesticides is essential to improve crop yield and guarantee quality. If we are to attempt to meet the predicted 50% increase in demand for food by 2030 then the UK must maximise its agricultural productivity through using the most effective agricultural technologies.
“If the EU accepts that increased food supplies have to be produced to meet an ever increasing population, then it needs to support an agricultural system which is most likely to achieve this objective. Intensive agriculture should not be replaced; rather, our aim should be to make it more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective. A mosaic of intensive agriculture plus natural habitat is in fact the only sustainable solution,” suggests Dr Ruscoe.
Today’s pesticides are more targeted and less persistent in the environment, but some of the actives which are earmarked for deregistration are critical to economic crop production. Can the industry really afford £175m and 10 years of research and development to replace each compound??
“Alternative non-pesticide crop protection measures, based on physical or cultural practices, or biological and genetic processes, are not intrinsically better or safer. And many “natural” compounds raise both toxicological and environmental concerns as many plants can produce neurotoxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors,” concludes Dr Ruscoe.
|21 July 2009|
For further information contact: Dr Colin Ruscoe, Chairman, BCPC. Tel: +44 (0) 7714 667500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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